George Moffat is a double world soaring champion (Open Class, 1970 and
1974), a frequent U.S. national champion and one of the most skilled,
experienced and courageous sailplane pilots who ever flew. Better
still, he is a writer of formidable power and purpose. When he
'speaks,' pilots should pay attention. We ignore him at--literally--our
His first book, WINNING ON THE WIND (1975) traced his early soaring and
contest flying from the era of 'sticks and glue' gliders (Ka-6,
Standard Austria, Elfe) to his triumphs with the early composite birds
such as the Nimbus crafted by a young genius, Klaus Holighaus, and
beyond. Comprised primarily of his articles in SOARING magazine, the
book reviewed the principles by which glider pilots learn to fly
better, faster, safer and more competitively. You didn't have to be a
contest pilot, a glider pilot or even a pilot to enjoy it. The writing
alone was worth the reader's time.
Now Moffat has done it again, updating his masterwork into a new book
no pilot or reader can afford to ignore. In fact, as he points out,
every flight in any airplane should be used to improve one's skills,
not just stooge about in the sky.
The book, with typically whimisical but insightful introduction by
Michael ('Platypus') Bird, is divided usefully into sections similar to
the original, from 'Changes in Competitive Soaring,' to 'Contest Flying
Techniques' to a series of compelling 'Soaring Stories,' which will
interest pilots and non pilots at many levels. Moffat updated his new
book to October 2004, but it will be many more years before anyone
writes with equal clarity about the marvelous, difficult, frustrating
but inspiring sport and art of soaring. This is writing of the highest
order, yet rendered in the style of the man: low key and unassuming,
despite its tremendous punch and importance.
Winning, Moffat writes, comes out of personal energy that is focused
and applied efficiently. This is a metaphor for life itself but it is
more: a lovely coincidence, since extracting energy from Nature is the
essence of the act of soaring.